Festive Friends

You dont’ have to be lonely this Christmas, as one charity prepares to open its doors to those facing the holiday season alone

T o help combat the increasing trend in festive isolation among older people, Abbeyfield is once again launching its Companionship at Christmas campaign.

The initiative is a home-from-home alternative devised for older people who wish to spend the festive period with others.

Sadly, loneliness still continues to plague society, social isolation is considered to be just as bad for you as smoking or being an alcoholic and according to recent studies, does more damage to your health than not exercising!

Living alone or feeling lonely is something that is accepted and not talked about; people generally become accustomed to their own company. However, in the run-up to Christmas when there is a barrage of cheery festive advertisements depicting happy times shared with family and friends, the sense of isolation and loneliness that people don’t usually notice can be magnified.

Abbeyfield is inviting older people who are alone over Christmas, residents with elderly neighbours living alone, and family members in need of respite support over the Christmas period to get in touch.

Look out for actor Geoffrey Palmer, who has agreed to be the spokesperson for the Companionship at Christmas campaign; he will be helping to raise awareness of the initiative.

The charity would like to hear from people who are aged 55 years and over, currently living independently in their own home and who will be alone or lonely over Christmas. The participating houses will welcome visits from the public on or around UK Older People’s Day when they will participate in the Big Skills Share hosting a number of activities on 1 October.

Paul Allen, CEO of the charity says: “Our aim is to enhance the quality of life for older people. We hope people accept our invitation and visit our Older Person’s Day events – it will really enhance the Christmas experience.”

Nearly 60 years ago, Richard Carr-Gomm founded Abbeyfield, a charity that was set up to provide companionship and housing for older people who lived alone or were lonely. Today, Abbeyfield has over 500 houses in the UK providing housing, support and a wide range of quality services with companionship still very much at the centre of what they provide.

It is a sad reality that in this day and age, charities and agencies similar to Abbeyfield are still trying to raise awareness of the struggles older people face and the very real impact of loneliness.

As the Abbeyfield Christmas initiative begins, the charity would like everyone to consider someone that they know to be living alone without much contact with others to bring this campaign to their attention, visit the website to find out about the nearest participating house, or contact Abbeyfield.

As part of the Christmas campaign Abbeyfield will be offering delicious Christmas lunches and overnight stays in Abbeyfield locations across England and Wales.

The campaign has already received the backing of a number of MPs, other charitable organisations and local authorities charged with taking care of the elderly around the country, who agree that the scheme provides an invaluable lifeline for older people.


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